By Rob Ogden
Two weeks ago, the Buckeyes were implementing the 'penny' defense in preparation for a Cal team that will throw 60-70 times a game. Now they're preparing to battle the run-heavy Badgers at the line of scrimmage.
Photo by Jim Davidson
No matter who the opponent is, cornerback Bradley Roby said his job remains the same: shut down the opposing receivers.
"Every week, as corners, we wanna go out and stop the receivers, so no matter what happens in the run game, we just wanna make sure when they do pass, we're ready," he said.
"We play them every year, they don't really change much. It's a specific type of brand of football that they run. We're used to it. We're used to playing them and we're gonna be ready."
Led by sophomore Melvin Gordon and senior James White, Wisconsin ranks third in the FBS in rushing yards per game.
In a win over Purdue on Saturday, the Badgers piled up 388 yards on the ground, including five touchdowns.
Roby said the Buckeyes' goal is to stuff the run and make quarterback Joel Stave beat them through the air.
"Anytime we can make him throw, that's what we want," he said. "They run the ball all the time, so we're gonna stop the run, and they're gonna have to pass, and that's exactly what we want."
Stave, a redshirt sophomore, has thrown for six touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes so far this season.
He's a prototypical Wisconsin quarterback: not the most athletically gifted, but a good game-manager.
The Badgers know where their bread is buttered, and it's with Gordon and White.
That style of game is just fine with Roby.
"It's smashmouth football. That's why we play football," he said. "That silver bullet defense, we're a tough defense. We pride ourselves on stopping the run, so we play a team that likes to runs, let's go. That's what we do."
Buckeyes love the lights
It was probably ABC's idea to make Saturday's game an 8 p.m. start, but the Buckeyes aren't complaining.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"Words can't even explain what it's like playing in The 'Shoe at night," junior linebacker Curtis Grant said. "The fans are crazy, that's the main thing. They give us a lot of energy — as we call it, the juice. That feeds through everybody and at the end of the day, it helps us play."
Night games at Ohio Stadium have become more and more common in recent years. 2013 marks the sixth consecutive season the Buckeyes have played under lights at home, going 3-2 in the previous five games.
Last season, the Buckeyes ripped Nebraska 63-38 in their only primetime home game of the year.
"I love night games," Roby said. "Especially when nobody's playing at that time. Everybody's watching. That's the best games. It's electrifying. It's not a noon game, everybody is there, people have all day to get drunk and stuff like that, so it's gonna be crazy."
The only downside to playing at night, sophomore Noah Spence said, is the wait.
"It's a long day," he said. "Shoot, you're just gonna be thinking about it all day and you're gonna see how hype it is. It's definitely a different atmosphere."
Alternate uniforms add to excitement
As if a Big Ten game under the lights wasn't enough for the Buckeyes to anticipate, the thought of wearing alternate uniforms has them even more excited.
Coach Urban Meyer confirmed this week that the Buckeyes will wear a "rivalry" uniform Saturday similar to what they wore against Michigan last season.
"Anytime you get the chance to wear a different uniform it's like 'alright, cool, yeah, we're about to go kill them,' " Roby said. "There's just something about wearing a different uniform that makes you play just a little bit better. That whole atmosphere added with that, it's just gonna be crazy."
Saturday will mark the fifth time Ohio State was worn the alternate Nike uniforms, and the Buckeyes are undefeated in the four previous games. Ohio State donned alternate duds under the lights against Wisconsin in 2011, and came away with a last-minute victory.
Spence wasn't around for that, but he likes what he's seen so far.
"They're hot. The colors look more defined," he said.
Meyer isn't worried about the colors, all he cares about is results and recruiting.
"The feedback from the rivalry game last year was incredible, not just from our players and recruits, but from Buckeye greats of old," Meyer said.
"I liked the result of the look. I'm not so much into looks, I'm into good players and recruiting."
Tight end Nick Vannett said some players are convinced results can be tied to looks.
"Some guys tend to play good when they think they look good," he said.
We'll find out Saturday night.
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